It is with a heavy heart that I report the death of Leon Schlamm on Monday, August 3.
Stephani Stephens forwarded the bare details to me earlier today: that Leon took ill on Saturday and was admitted to hospital, where despite all medical efforts he died very unexpectedly early on Monday morning. He was 67.
Leon was one of those who have truly carried water for Jungian studies. Until his retirement a few years ago he was a mainstay of the Religious Studies department at the University of Kent, Canterbury, U.K., where he co-convened the MA programme in Mysticism and Religious Experience, out of which grew a further MA in the study of traditional cosmologies and divination systems. Earlier he was involved in the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies at Kent, which I believe was the forerunner of the present Centre based at the University of Essex. His papers on depth psychology and mysticism appeared in ‘Harvest’ and in edited volumes. He attended some of the IAJS conferences (Texas A&M, Greenwich) and kept up lively conversations with many in the Jungian community.
There will no doubt be further information forthcoming regarding a memorial service, and a proper obituary, but I didn’t want to delay posting this basic information. Those of you who knew Leon are invited to share your appreciations and recollections on the list. (I shall write further about him as a teacher and supervisor, as I believe will Stephani who was also one of his research students.) Michael Glock tells me that we will be able to assemble such messages in an “In Memoriam” page on the IAJS website.
I have been watching for an obituary notice for Leon and finally yesterday, August 17, the following memorial message was posted at the website of the Religious Studies department, University of Kent:
An excerpt from the memorial message (written by Jeremy Carrette, head of Religious Studies):
“His research work focused on Rudolf Otto and numinous experience and on the psychology of Carl Jung and religion. He was particularly interested to show the relation of Otto and Jung to mystical experience and explored work in transpersonal psychology, particularly Ken Wilber and John Welwood. He produced important articles for the Jungian journal Harvest and in the journal Religious Studies (see below). In his paper ‘C G Jung’s Visionary Mysticism’ (Harvest: International Journal for Jungian Studies, 52, 1, 2006, 7-37) he argued that Jung could be understood as ‘post-religious or detraditionalised, western visionary mystic’. His commitment to this position was driven by thinking in relation to the history of religion and established a strong position for locating Jung in the history of mystical thought. His research and teaching reflected his commitment to the model of religious studies established by Ninian Smart at the University of Lancaster in the 1960s and 1970s and which Leon brought to the University of Kent with his own unique vision, passion and humour.”
I’ll post the full message and the bibliography on the IAJS website in due course. Am having some trouble with my computer at the moment.
I understand that Leon’s funeral is being held today, August 18, at 11:20 am at the Barham Crematorium in Kent.
Best regards to all,
Date: August 6, 2015 at 3:00:18 AM PDT
Dear all – It is very sad he passed away so suddenly; recently he’d rejoined IAJS after a short hiatus – his charismatic presence was a real focus whatever place he was in – as a teacher he must have been extraordinary; his students have always been utterly devoted; he had ability to personalise and to communicate wordlessly; his work on the kaballah was inspirational when he presented in London some years ago and over the years. His warmth and scholarship in the Jungian world will be sorely missed – there are very few like him. as ever,
Date: On Aug 6, 2015, at 3:08 AM, Andrew Samuels
It is a considerable loss for our field. Leon will be missed.
But sadly there were no substantial links between the Kent and Essex Centres for Psychoanalytic Studies. In retrospect, more might have been done but the former was closing at the time the latter was opening.
We have had former students of Leon’s at Essex and they truly loved him.
Date: August 7, 2015 at 12:42:15 AM PDT
Every great teacher of the soul is missed.
Date: August 7, 2015 at 3:56:17 AM PDT
It is very sad to lose a friend and perhaps even more so to lose a beloved teacher. Leon was the best sort of teacher and a supervisor like no other. We who were lucky enough to study under his supervision were in for a ride with Leon. His dedication to us as students came in equal measure with his enthusiasm, care, attention and time. Conversations that were meant to be a quick 20 minutes stretched for hours discussing Jung. Leon was at his best during these lengthy conversations when he shared so much knowledge about the man and his theories.
Over the years, I learned a great deal from Leon about the community of Jungians, many of whom make up this list. He lauded his colleagues’ research and with relish would encourage to read, explore, trawl and then challenge. He was a champion of Jungian topics that were not as popular or, should we say, mainstream, but ones he thought no less important to Jungian scholarship. As Jean mentioned, he taught an MA course in Cosmology and Divination and at one time a course on Gurus. His publications included ‘Revisiting Jung’s Dialogue with Yoga’, ‘Jung’s Ambivalent Relationship to the Hindu Religious Tradition’, ‘Jung as a Visionary Mystic’ and his personal interest in the numinous went back to his own doctoral days. He had been working on a book about Jung and Mysticism.
And Leon had a laugh, a laugh that can only be described as conspiratorial, one of those deep, full bodied, rocking laughs that was warm, inviting and effusive. So I think this week, as I remember Leon, my dear teacher, this is what I shall be remembering, his laugh.